I love Game of Thrones. I really do. It’s the reason my wife and I subscribed to HBO, and it’s really the catalyst that jumpstarted our love of several HBO series and documentaries on the channel. So, like millions of other GoT viewers, I find myself thinking about the characters and plot, and the significant events and story arcs of each character. This includes the current Sansa house-of-horrors return to her childhood home and the recent death of Princess Shireen.
Now, I’ll go ahead and tell you that I think the HBO series has done a better job of telling this story than either of the past 2 books from George R. R. Martin has done. So, feel free to stop reading right there if you like, but I can tell you that I was getting physically agitated while reading the drawn out Brienne wandering chapters, and there were just so many unnecessarily lengthened portions of those books that seemed to have no other purpose than to agitate the reader. Hate me for my opinion there, but when I love a book, I tend to reread it several times, and these last two books have almost no chance of ever being reread again (by me).
Anyway, back to the point of this post. Stannis and Shireen. When episode 4 of Season 5 aired, my wife and I were watching the “affectionate” scene between the two, and I said “Oh, dear.” She gave me a puzzled look and I immediately said, “the only reason for the writers to write such a scene for such a man would be to set up her imminent death.”
Here’s the scene in question.
Season 5, Episode 4, Stannis and Shireen
For some viewers, this was seen as a redemption scene–something to give viewers a rallying point to root for him to succeed–but Stannis is hardly someone to root for. He’s going to die, and it’s likely to be a sacrifice when he realizes just what Melisandre is up to. As George R. R. Martin has said, Melisandre has her own agenda, and to me, it has been eradicating the Baratheon line.
Melisandre killed Renly, and she convinced Stannis to take part–an act that started him on a darker path. From there, he lost more of his humanity and a complete loss of sight when it came to what kind of dynasty he possible could or should create. He then endorsed her efforts to kill off more of the Baratheon line when she brought Gendry to his castle and nearly executed him (until Davos saved him). Davos could not save Shireen, but he may have helped save some visage of the Baratheon line with Gendry. Anyway, she convinced Stannis that the ends justify the means. And he went deeper into the darkness. He killed his devoted subjects in public burnings. And he slid deeper into the darkness.
And then Melisandre convinced him to go north to help the men of the Night’s Watch. No, not the Night’s Watch. She was drawn by and to someone else.
“I pray for a glimpse of Azor Ahai, and R’hllor shows me only Snow“, Melisandre in DwD, Chapter 31.
Stannis is as much the one true king as Robert was. They were both usurpers and undeserving, though Robert was strong enough to force himself onto the throne for the rest of his natural life. Melisandre sees the one true king. She’s asked her god to give her a glimpse of the Azor Ahai, the “dragon” who will defeat the white walkers again, and he has shown her Jon Snow. The scene with his sword (undoubtedly the repurposed Lightbringer from the book) being used to kill one of the white walker lieutenants makes sure viewers are sufficiently warned, just as the scene with Shireen and Stannis was laid out to warn viewers what was going to happen to the Princess.
BEGIN POTENTIAL SPOILER WARNING
As any reader of ADwD can attest, in a future episode, Jon Snow will be attacked by his own people and perhaps the old human part of him will be no more. We don’t know. If he survives, he will likely be in a different form–perhaps less human and more Azor Ahai. Or maybe the series writers will keep his humanity and Ned Stark’s base tenants, but if so, he’s going to be in constant danger. I think with that scene, Jon will become more like the dragon he needs to be in order to defeat the unnaturally gifted white walker menace.
END POTENTIAL SPOILER WARNING
Now, I only consider a spoiler to be something in the book that has not been shown in the HBO series. Predictions, to me, are not spoilers. I can’t verify any of the following will happen, but I have a feeling the following things will come to take place and I’ll describe why.
1.) Azor Ahai is the reincarnation of the Last Hero and is also the promised Prince. He is also Jon Snow, who is most certainly the son of Rhaegar and Lyanna. Some have speculated that Azor Ahai is a combination of Jon Snow, Daenerys and another due to the prophecy seen by Daenerys in the House of the Undying, where three dragons are mentioned. However, I’m pretty sure this is a reference to the 3 children (Daenerys, Viserys and Jon), rather than any amalgamate featuring Jon and Daeny (e.g. Brann or Tyrion, which are all great, fun theories, but I believe Azor Ahai is specifically Jon Snow).
2.) The Targaryens are the promise of Valyria and the only hope of mankind to fight the plague of the Others. Valyria produced the type of blade that could kill them–that was made explicit via the scene with Jon Snow. Dragon Fire is also going to be a likely killer of the white walkers, just as we saw fire magic being used against the attackers of Brann Stark and his troop. The world needs Valyria to continue, and Daenerys was supposedly made barren by the witch who killed Khal Drogo. This hurts the chances of Jon Snow marrying Daenerys. The truth is that mankind needs the Targaryens to survive, or else humanity must find a way to destroy the Others completely this time. Failure to do either means that in another 10,000 years, humanity is simply doomed. If Jon and Daenerys do marry, then Melisandre or some other R’hllor priest may need to undo her witch-inflicted barren state.
3.) Stannis is going to die, probably in a fire as it will be the will of R’hllor and likely when he has his path to the throne in sight. He’s likely to survive and prosper up to the end. He will either be killed by Melisandre, or he will personally kill her when he realizes what she was really up to (killing the problematic elements of the House of Baratheon for R’hllor, who appears to me to be the God who ultimately protects men from the walkers). Both may actually happen, where Melisandre and Stannis end up killing each other. But Stannis, at the very least, is doomed. He was simply a tool, used by R’hllor, to protect Jon Snow, the Azor Ahai, by stopping the army that would have killed him.
Anyway, that’s enough speculative musings for now ;). Feel free to comment!